We’ve got terrible news to pass along to you this morning. TMZ is reporting that Jani Lane, ex-frontman of the glam metal band Warrant, was found dead in a Los Angeles area hotel last night at the age of 47. A cause of death has yet to be determined.
Lane, along with his band, rose to fame in the late eighties when the glam (some would say “hair”) metal scene of the Sunset Strip exploded in popularity. Warrant’s debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, was released by Columbia Records and was somewhat of an unexpected hit. The LP, powered by the smash power ballad “Heaven” (video below), cracked the Billboard Top Ten and positioned the band for even bigger things with the release of 1990’s Cherry Pie. The title track of that record, thanks in large part to its innuendo-laden lyrics, is remembered as one of the raunchier songs and videos of the era, and launched star (and future wife of Lane’s) Bobbi Brown into pin-up status.
By most accounts, the last few years have been difficult for Lane. After struggling with alcohol issues, he appeared on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club 2 in 2005 and seemed to get his life back on track. However, he fell back into old habits and served nearly four months in jail in 2010 after receiving his second DUI. His body was found in a hotel room of the Comfort Inn in Woodland Hills, California last night.
Coldplay paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse in concert on Sunday night at the Splendour in the Grass festival in Australia, and in their latest tour-blog update, they shared what sounds like a soundboard recording of the chorus of “Rehab,” which they played during their encore as an introduction to their own “Fix You.” “There?s little that can be said about Amy Winehouse?s passing that hasn?t already been said,” the band writes in the post. “It?s just such a sad waste. We?ll leave aside the awful irony and just let the Aussie choir sing” (referring to the audience’s unprompted singalong). The tribute is understated and respectful, and as far as we can tell from reviews and other clips, the band didn’t say any words, letting the music (not to mention the audience) speak for itself.
Until an official report on the cause of Amy Winehouse’s death becomes public, many are more than happy to speculate, including, most recently, Tony Azzopardi, a 56-year-old London man who claims to have been friends with the singer and her now-incarcerated ex Blake Fielder-Civil. Azzopardi has given several interviews to local police?and several more to the British tabloids?indicating that, in spite of the claims of Winehouse’s family, the singer had relapsed, a fact he knew as a result of helping her buy crack cocaine and heroin on the eve of her death.
“She sang from her soul,” Estelle told VH1 News, as Big Sean looked on. She recalled first hearing “F?k Me Pumps,” from Winehouse’s debut Frank: “I’m sitting there, like, ‘I know girls like that! I know every one of ‘em girls! We rave with them every week!'” Clearly, even though the two singers came up together, Estelle admired her late friend’s lyrical talents. “It’s hard as an artist to be that clear and that clean in your message and what you’re talking about,” she said. “[Amy Winehouse] was the only one I knew who could do that, and just speak it.” The real revelation of the interview, though, is the new level of appreciation that Big Sean develops for Winehouse as Estelle speaks. “Wow! That’s crazy! I didn’t know it was like that,” he said, admiringly, adding, “I didn’t personally know her. That’s real, man. She sounded like a real G. No, seriously!” (Anyone who needs a reminder of her realness need only watch her shocked gratitude at winning the Grammy for Record of the Year. WARNING: That video nearly made us cry at work?and we watched the ceremony live.) Read more…
Mark Ronson is, it would seem, a firm believer in the old saying, “the show must go on.” Less than thirty-six hours after he attended the funeral of his dear friend and musical collaborator Amy Winehouse, he and his band The Business Intl. were slated to play an open-air concert as part of the weeklong Greenwich Summer Sessions festival, and rather than cancel the engagement, he dedicated the show to his late friend and played several of her songs, including “Valerie”:
The song was already part of the band’s repertoire, but last night’s performance was particularly poignant. “Usually when we sing this song, Kyle [Falconer, previously of The View] sings it,” Ronson said, introducing the song, “But you know what? I think the only thing that would be right tonight is if you guys sing it.” He then introduced Winehouse’s two backup singers: “We’re gonna help you?I’m not gonna say that Zalon and Ade don’t have much better voices than all of you?but it’s not really about that. We want you to sing this s?t as loud as you can.” The crowd gladly obliged. The band?and crowd?were also joined on vocals by Dave McCabe, who’d originally written “Valerie” for his band The Zutons.
Ronson’s tributes spanned the entire evening; while DJing before his set, he played “Rehab,” and he later related a quotation from Tuesday’s service while speaking to the crowd: “There was a rabbi that spoke, and he said that somebody’s life is measured in deeds and not years, and that’s the best thing I heard yesterday.” Near the end of his performance he returned again to Winehouse’s catalog, performing “Back to Black,” which is viewable below.
In the wake of Amy Winehouse‘s untimely death, many of her obituaries have focused on how little recorded material of hers actually exists. Since releasing her second studio album, Back In Black, in 2006, the soul-influenced vocalist went five years without officially releasing any new material. And while speculation and rumors of new songs have been swirling around since her unfortunate passing on Saturday, a source close to Winehouse’s management has told The Guardian that there may actually be a treasure trove of songs to release. Enough for an album, or, dare we say it, even two.
According to the source, the late singer “had put down the bare bones of tracks and some were further along than others.” Constantly writing over these past few years, it was understood that Winehouse was recording and amassing a pile of demos in the studios within her home. In 2008, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Lucian Grainge publically boasted that Amy’s new material was “sensational,” and just a year ago, the artist who already penned Frank and Back to Black vowed that a third album was in the works, and would be released in January of 2011.
Like the gifted singer, that date has now come and gone, and as fans, we can only hope that the purity in the groundwork Winehouse already created will be handled with care and built upon in the most respectful manner possible. And while her label Island Records is maintaining a universal (no pun intended) don’t-confirm-or-deny position, we’ve been told by our own sources over there that there is “no new music as of now.” Translation: it’s coming, but we have to be patient.
After friends and family of Amy Winehouse gathered yesterday for a private funeral ceremony, her father Mitch Winehouse released a statement that insisted that Winehouse had “conquered her drug dependency” three years ago, and “had just completed three weeks of abstinence” from alcohol. “She was not depressed,” he also noted. Implicitly his statement castigates the fatalistic tendencies of some of the Winehouse eulogies. None of this was to diminish his daughter’s struggle; in the same statement he renewed his commitment to helping others combat addictions through the soon to be formed Amy Winehouse Foundation: “In [Britain], if you cannot afford a private rehabilitation clinic, there is a two-year waiting list for help. With the help of Keith Vaz MP, we are trying to change that.” (The statement can be read in full at The Guardian)
Kelly Osbourne, however, was more openly critical of those who might be less than entirely respectful about the passing of her close friend. When she heard the news, she’d tweeted, “I cant even breath right my now im crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy & will never forget the real you!” She called it “the saddest day of my life!” Today, she returned to Twitter to call out those who she sees as profiting off Winehouse’s death: “any ‘friend’ of amy’s talking 2 the press/tv are not her actual friend’s. her real friends have more dignity then to get $ 2 talk about her!”
One surprising but touching tribute that we suspect neither Winehouse nor Osbourne would have a problem with came from Sixties girl-group veteran Ronnie Spector. Spector was a clear influence on Winehouse, and, in turn, the ex-Ronette would regularly cover “Back to Black” in concert. The singer spoke to Matthew Perpetua at Rolling Stone about her grief over Winehouse’s passing. “Every time I looked at her, it was like I was looking at myself,” she told him. “She had my beehive, my eyeliner, my attitude.” But this was not an accusation of plagiarism?it was admiration that she returned.
Amy came to my show in London about six months ago, and she was so shy. She was hiding behind somebody, but I could see the hairstyle, and I knew she was there. That was all I needed. When I sang “Back to Black,” I could see the tears in her eyes, and there were tears in mine.
Spector will be releasing a cover of “Back to Black,” with proceeds going to substance abuse treatment center Daytop Village. The song can be streamed at Rolling Stone.
Amy Winehouse‘s family and friends?including Kelly Osbourne, who had her hair styled in a beehive after Winehouse’s iconic ‘do, and Mark Ronson?gathered at Edgewarebury Cemetery in north London this morning for a private funeral service for the departed singer. Her father Mitch Winehouse gave a eulogy before the service, one that closed with Carole King‘s “So Far Away.” Mourners reportedly gathered afterward at a local synagogue, before the singer was cremated and her family began to sit Shiva.
Winehouse’s untimely passing has spiked interest in revisiting her woefully small body of work; Back to Black is likely to re-enter album sales charts this week. Even still, Microsoft came under fire for encouraging followers of its UK PR Twitter account @tweetbox360 to remember the singer by downloading the album via Zune.
We certainly understand (and share) the desire to revisit her work, which is why we went into our archives to find the tape of Amy Winehouse’s performance at the 2008 Oxygen Festival in Ireland. We’ve aired a handful of clips from this performance before, like her rendition of her now eerie classic “Rehab,” below, but we wanted to share the concert in full. MTV Live: Amy Winehouse will premiere tonight on Palladia at 8 p.m. ET/PT, with encore airings on tomorrow at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT and Thursday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Ever since news broke that Amy Winehouse had been found dead at 27, the outpouring of grief (including dozens of comments on our announcement) has been a stark reminder of how much, and to how many people, Winehouse continued to matter as an artist. Fans have left tribute comments not only on Winehouse’s own videos on YouTube, but also barely-related ones like Britney Spears’s “If You Seek Amy,” just because they’re looking for any outlet to grieve. As we noted earlier, a range of performers voiced tribute on Twitter, but for some, 140 characters wasn’t enough.
Big Boishared a previously unreleased Dungeon Family remix of her song “Tears Dry On Their Own”:
Several performers blogged touching tributes. Adele‘s “Amy Flies in Paradise xx”, praised the way in which both her sheer talent and her unwillingness to compromise led to a minor sea change in British pop: “Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blas? about the whole thing. I don?t think she ever realised just how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her even more charming.”
And although the autopsy has just begun today, and toxicology reports will take weeks, the popular consensus is that Winehouse’s death was caused, directly or indirectly, by her struggles with addiction. Dr. Drewtweeted, “SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but sadly not for Amy Winehouse.” But perhaps the most touching tribute on this subject comes from Russell Brand, a fellow performer who famously struggled with issues of addiction. His post For Amy, about the inevitability of one of two types of “the phone call,” is a must-read. We recommend you click through to it, but the multitude of hits has swamped his site, so just in case you can’t get through, we’ve reposted his tribute in its entirety below.
TMZ is reporting that Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the famed Gen X television staples The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island, passed away earlier today at the age of 94. It’s fair to say that those shows have two of the most recognizable and memorable theme songs in the history of television medium, and Schwartz (pictured above being kissed by Florence “Carol Brady” Henderson and Dawn “Mary-Ann” Wells) had songwriting credits on both of them! If there were a Hall of Fame for this sort of thing (and, frankly, it’s a shame that there isn’t), Schwartz would be a shoo-in to be inducted on the first ballot.
Of course, network television shows these days rarely utilize minute-long theme songs during their credit sequences as a way to ease viewers into the world that their characters occupy, mainly because that is time that the suits would rather sell to advertisers and the showrunners desperately need to develop their plotlines. However, at the time when Schwartz rose to prominence, the medium was still emerging from its primordial ooze stage, and theme songs were a handy narrative device carried over from the days of radio serials. To write just one of these legendary theme songs would surely place Schwartz in rare company, but to have TWO of them to his credit is just plain bonkers. Guess this means that Alan Thicke –yes, THAT Alan Thicke, the dad from Growing Pains, but also the same guy who is credited with writing the theme songs for The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes– is responsible for carrying the TV theme song torch from here on out. Rest in peace, Sherwood.
Here’s the theme song for the Brady Bunch; bet you know every word by heart!